As I often say to my son: Life is a series of transitions.
This time last year I celebrated a major milestone. I had exercised at least five times a week for 52 consecutive weeks. I was in perhaps the best shape of my life, and I immediately committed to another year of fitness and health.
Halfway through my personal challenge, my dad passed away.
Everyone at my office is sick, recovering from being sick, or like me, fighting like hell not to get sick. That’s why I made Filipino arroz caldo for dinner. It’s traditionally a savory rice porridge with chicken, garlic, and ginger. I cooked a Paleo version using cauliflower rice, which is made by putting cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulsing until the cauliflower is the size of rice grains. My arroz caldo is inspired by Joshua Bozel’s recipe for Serious Eats and Mary J. Gines’s recipe for Fit Living Foodies.
Paleo Filipino “Arroz Caldo”
- 2/3 cup canola oil (or coconut oil), divided
- 12 cloves of garlic, minced (yes, 12!)
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cups cauliflower rice
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
Heat 1/3 cup oil in small pan over medium heat. Add half of the minced garlic and cook until garlic turns light brown. Place garlic in fine-mesh strainer and drain. Then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the remaining 1/3 cup oil over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the sliced onion and cook for 5 minutes until soft but not brown. Next add the rest of your garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute more.
Place chicken in pot and cook until no longer pink. Then add cauliflower rice, chicken stock, fish sauce, and lime juice. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until it has reached your desired consistency. Add more fish sauce and lime juice to taste.
Ladle arroz caldo into bowls and top with green onions and fried garlic.
I don’t really write recipes–I’d rather spend my time cooking. But my friends Dawn and Helen asked me to put this one together. It’s inspired by RG Enriquez of Astig Vegan, a blogger you should definitely check out if you want to explore vegan and/or Filipino food.
This recipe is vegan, but you could modify it to meet your dietary needs or taste preferences. It can stand alone as a main dish or as a hearty side. Eat it with rice and bagoong if you’re feeling Filipino.
Kabocha Squash and Kale in Coconut Milk
- 1 tablespoon vegan margarine (or your fat of choice)
- 1/2 an onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch kale, middle stems removed and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
- 4-6 cups kabocha squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces (half of a small-to-medium squash)
- 2 14 oz. cans unsweetened coconut milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
Melt vegan margarine over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add chopped onion and cook 3-5 minutes until soft and translucent. Put in minced garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in kale and cook for 5 minutes until kale is wilted. Place chopped squash in pan, pour in coconut milk, and add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then turn heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You’ll know it’s done when you can easily pierce the squash with a fork. Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking.